Muslims in Ukraine keep faith despite challenges

Kiev, (UNA-OIC) – Muslims in Ukraine lack places of worship, according to Said Ismagilov, Ukraine’s mufti.

The head of the Religious Administration of Ukraine Muslims said it was very hard to obtain land to build mosques, stating that the lack of places of worship was especially visible outside big cities, Anadolu Agency reported.

“Muslims in smaller cities with smaller communities face more problems as they do not even have places of worship or access to halal food,” he added.

The Mufti said in his list of grievances that there are not enough cemeteries for Muslims and that Muslim women had to remove their hijab for their passport pictures.

Calling on international Muslim organizations for support in building mosques and Islamic centers in the country, Ismagilov said that it would be essential “for the future of Islam in Ukraine.

Ismagilov said that nearly a million Muslims live in Ukraine, the majority in Crimea and in big cities such as Kiev.

During the Soviet Union [era], religions — including Islam — were forbidden in Ukraine, so when Ukraine became independent Muslims started from the beginning to learn about their religion,” he said.

Speaking about the activities of the Islamic Center in Kiev at which the Mufti works, Ismagilov said that many needs of Muslims — including weddings, halal restaurants, Ramadan programs, Islamic education for children and adults and other facilities � were being covered.

During the month of Ramadan we have around 800-1,000 people at the Islamic Center for iftar [fast-breaking meal] and Tarawih [Ramadan prayers], he added.

Ismagilov said the facilities of the Islamic Center offer various seminars, open lectures, and festivals which show that Muslim culture and traditions were not only open for Muslims, but for everyone.

Ismagilov stated that he also holds lectures at universities and Christian seminars to educate people on Islam and foster good relations between Muslims and other faiths.

Source: International Islamic News Agency